Packing List for High Altitude region

Leh, Ladakh travel is not just another backpacking travel. Travelling to this region requires extensive research and preparations. You will have to be prepared for any kind of weather conditions when you are in this region. While, you may find in the Leh city you feel the weather is very hot, but Pangong or Tso Moriri will be quite opposite, you wouldn’t survive without muffler, thermals and all the winter accessories. So, here’s the list which I had prepared consolidating all the sources from the internet. Hope this helps you. I have no knowledge on the Biking trips, so this list is not sufficient for biking trips but can be considered as an essentials list.

Please note, Ladakh is an High Altitude region and physical pre-preparation is equally important.

Note: We did not travel lite, but almost all the items from the list were useful.

Basic Travel Kit
Itinerary Printout (at least 2)
Travel Guide / Map Print Out (at least 2)
At least two Copies of Photo IDs for all members
Mobile Charger
Pen and a small Diary
Bag locks (2 or more)
Backpack or Carry bag
Extra spectacles with cover
Spectacles cover
Small Scissor
Swiss Knife
Hand Sanitizer (Dettol) – Recommended
Sunglasses – Recommended
Multi-Plug – Recommended for remote areas (Spike Guard)
Small water bottle, say 500 ml
Match Boxes
Couple of candles
Plastic Bags / Plastic Zip Lock Bags
Twist-ties, safety pins
Novels one or two
Credit/Debit Cards
Camera Kit
Camera with bag
Camera Charger and its cable
Camera Battery
Camera Cleaning Kit including Lens pen
Remote Release
Extra Camera Battery, if possible
Extra Remote Release Battery, if possible
Extra memory cards, if possible
Zip lock bags for cameras with water proof pouch.
Tooth Brush
Tooth Paste
Toilet Soap
Shampoo Pouches according to the schedule or a small shampoo bottle
Tissue Papers
Face wash
Hair Oil
Moisturizing Cream
Sun block
Cold cream
Lip Guard, Balm
Cologne Talc
Small Mirror
Feminine Hygiene, if required
Hand Towel
Mustard oil: Mustard oil can be used for moisturizing skin, putting it in your hair and for lubricating insides of nostrils, which can become quite dry and painful due to dry and cold winds of Ladakh.
Shaving Kit
Shaver / Razor / Trimmer
Shaving Blades ( If possible keep some extra blades)
Shaver Brush
Shaving Foam or Cream
Clothing Kit
Clothes as per the schedule
Full sleeves T-shirts
Normal/Woolen Socks (Multiple)
Waterproof/Wind proof jacket
Thermals for both lower and upper (At least 2)
Shawls / Mufflers / Gloves
Cardigans / Sweat Shirts
Clothes that help in layering
At least one light jacket
Air Travel
Air-ticket Printout (if flying with e-tickets)
ID proof
Mountain Must Haves
Cold Cream
Lip Guard
Hats / Caps
Heavy Woolen Clothing including woolen socks (Severe Cold / Snow)
Woolen Hand Gloves (Severe Cold / Snow)
At least 2 pairs of thermal.
Medicine or First Aid Box
ORS or ORS-L Tetra Packs at least 5 in number
Pain Relief Spray
Pain Relief Cream or Gel
Betadine – Antiseptic cream
Savlon or Dettol – Antiseptic solution
Combiflam or Flexon – Pain Killers
Crocin or Paracetamol – Mild Fever
Avomine – Relief from Dizziness, Motion Sickness and Vomiting
Digene – Relief from Flatulence, Indigestion, acidity (mild)
Zinetac 150mg – Acidity or gastric problems (only if severe)
Eno Sachets – Quick Gastric Relief
Entroquinol – Relief from Loose motion (mild)
Metrogyl – Relief from Loose motion (high)
Pudin Hara for stomachache
Crepe Bandage – 2 (for fractures)
J&J Band-Aid Fast Heal Wash proof – Long, Square and circle patches
Cotton and Dressing Bandage
Becosules for vitamin B-complex and sometimes energy
Eye Tone for soothing eyes
Nasivion for blocked and dry nose
Ongoing Regular Medicines, if any
Antiseptic Skin cream
Alegra 120 MG for Allergy
Water Purification Pills
Nasal sprays
Emergency food and water
Water Bottles
Chocolates, toffees, chips, chewing gums, mouth freshener, dry fruits
Other Handy Items
Thermos Flask
ID Proof and PP sized photos
Emergency Money
Books for reading
Shoes with good grip
Foot warmers for cold nights
Cell Phone and Chargers
Safety Pins
Pocket knife / spoon set
Waist Pouch
Thin Bedsheet
One Backpack and a Day pack
Garbage Bag / Plastic Bags to carry wet, soiled clothes

Clothing Layer tips

  • Layer 1: Starting with inner thermals
  • Layer 2: Full sleeves t-shirt and track pants; Woolen Socks (One double woven woolen socks with one warm nylon or normal woolen socks inside). Carry enough spare socks and other undergarments.
  • Layer 3: Woolen Sweater or Fleece Jacket.
  • Good thick Woolen Monkey Cap or Balaclava with woolen Muffler
  • Layer 4: Wind Proof Winter Jackets with a wind proof hood. (Down jackets or Snow Jackets meant for extreme cold weather if you are going to Ladakh during Ladakh Winter).
  • A Pair of good snow gloves
  • Good Pair of Sun Glasses with Good UV Protection.

Physical Pre-preparation for high altitude trip

  • One to two hour walk or any other cardio exercise every day at least 4 days a week
  • Breathing exercise
  • Stretching exercise
  • Drink plenty of fluid; especially during last week and on the trip
  • Avoid Alcohol / minimize smoking if possible avoid it totally
  • Eat good food (Add plenty of vegetables; salads; fruits to your diet).

Leh-Ladakh – Where to stay?

Recommendations on accommodation based on our experience, including a couple places which you should avoid.

Guesthouse and Hotel Recommendations:

Jamspal Guest House at Leh
Located in the Fort Road, Jamspal Guest had been like our home for every alternate day. Ishey, the owner is very down to earth and is ready to offer his help anytime. Anytime you come out, he is ready offering a cup of Qahwa (Kashmiri Tea) and lots of stories about the region. His wife has maintained a wonderful garden of both flowers and vegetables, also provides delicious breakfast every morning, especially Khambir (Local Bread).

Breakfast provided at an additional  cost
Rooms: There are rooms within the building which is average and at lower rates and in the annex building which are new rooms with higher cost.
While going to visit other places, in case you require the room when you come back, reserve the room with the owners. He arranged for a room in the nearby guest house Ajantha Guest House, which you can avoid.
WiFi is available – not too good, signal mostly good when you come out.
No heater, solar hot water provided. At times, hot water is a constraint but Ishey arranges for hot water.
Connectivity: Both Airtel and BSNL worked here.

Royal Inn – Kargil
Located beside the beautiful Suru River, and a bit away from the main roads. Beautiful place to relax and unwind until you begin the next days journey. Rooms are average, better than the other places which we checked out on the main road. Negotiate on the room rent and they provide food at an additional cost. The food was really good. The Manager of the Mehraj has done a commendable job in maintaining this Inn, we had a good chat with Mehraj for hours on different subjects and he gave us lots of inputs and his knowledge is vast.

Breakfast and Dinner provided at an additional  cost
Rooms: There are rooms in different floors with different tariff.
WiFi is available .
Solar hot water provided. No sure about heater as we went during August and did not require.
Connectivity: Both Airtel and BSNL worked here.

Habib Guest House, Nubra Valley
Our transportation was arranged by Rigzin and he had clearly told us to blindly go to this place and he will take responsibility that the home stay, food, everything will be good. When he said that, we were sceptical should we stay here? But when we reached Nubra, there were hell a lot of billboards at one junction with the list of home stays. We decided to go with Habib Guest House no matter what, when we entered the Habib Guest House locality, we just fell in love with this place. The rooms were average, we had hot water wall the time. The Dinner and Breakfast was included in the room rent, food was awesome. The Butter Tea, I got to taste here for the first time in Leh. Lovely home cooked food. Only drawback with this place was the flies, which we found in all other places later on.

Breakfast and Dinner provided and included in the room cost.
Rooms: There are rooms in different two buildings.
WiFi is not available, BSNL works without internet.
Solar hot water provided. No sure about heater as we went during August and did not require.
Connectivity: Only BSNL worked here.

Himalayan Wooden Cottage, Pangong
Pangong in a way, still gives me shivers. The weather was breezy when we reached Pangong and being on a higher altitude it was not easy breathing. Inside the cottage it was a bit suffocating until we settled down.

Himalayan Wooden Cottage was the best we could get in that place, including food and services. I really salute the caretakers and the people staying there. We reached Pangong late in the afternoon and we could not have food en-route as most of the hotels were shut down due to a Buddhist festival.  The caretaker, I really forgot his name, was very helpful and prepared Dal and Rice, very basic but tasty at that time. The dinner and Breakfast is provided and it’s really good, especially the soup when the temperature is below 5 degree.

Comfort: You might feel, the wooden cabin is compact and suffocating, but trust me this place is better than the other tents and cabins available in that area. We witnessed a couple of people coming and enquiring if they had accommodation here, where as they had a booking in the other place which they did not like.
Accessibility from Pangong Lake: The cottage is a bit far from the lake, but you get the better view and it’s safe and comfortable. We got to see a lovely rainbow which lifted our enthusiasm.
Acclimatisation: Take precautions before reaching Pangong, despite of more than a weeks acclimatisation at Leh, we did feel little uneasiness. We did drink garlic water which made us feel better.
Chilling Cold: It’s really really cold in Pangong lake, you may not experience this at Nubra Valley. Go prepared with the thermals and warm clothes. They provide thick blankets which is really cosy.
Star Gazing: For Sky gazers, you may not want to miss this. The cold was unbearable and we were a bit scared about the Snow Leopards or wild animals so we did not step out of our cottage but you get to witness the Stars and Galaxy so marvellous.

Breakfast and Dinner provided and included in the room cost.
Rooms: There are independent cabins.
WiFi is not available, BSNL works intermittently without internet.
Solar hot water provided. No sure about heater as we went during August and did not require.
Connectivity: Only BSNL worked here.

Nezer Guest House, Leh
We had an impromptu stay at Nezer Guest House on our last day. The stay was okay and comfortable, the guest house is located at old road near the Leh market. You could call this place a hotel and not a guest house.

Breakfast and Dinner not provided. In house restaurant available – cannot comment on this as we did not use the services.
Room service provided.
Rooms: Multiple rooms in first and second floor.
WiFi is available.
Solar hot water provided. Heater available during winter.
Connectivity: Both Airtel and BSNL works here.


Ladakh Calling…

img_0444For the ones bitten by travel bug, there’s always an inner voice calling you to the Himalayas. for those with this inner voice calling, it’s now time to plan the Ladakh trip with ample five months for perfect planning, airlines offering low fares.

First step in planning a Ladakh trip is how you plan to reach Leh city. You have three options via Srinagar, Manali or by air. Travelling via Srinagar or by air will be more likely for better acclimatisation.

We had meticulously planned our trip during August 2016 but during the 11th hour we had to make changes in our itinerary due to turmoil in Srinagar. One cannot say what and how the situation in the Kashmir be in the Summers. Had we planned our visit during the early summers the situation was better but mid July onward the situation was not right for the road travels. I hope and pray there’s no issue that would lead to any disharmony in the valley. We still miss visiting Kashmir during our last visit to Ladakh. So, if you plan to fly to Srinagar and opt to go by road from Srinagar to Leh – have a plan B and always book refundable flight tickets to Srinagar. Jet Airways was very kind with refunding our fares last time. Look for the Srinagar – Leh highway status which will open only after the Snowfall stops mostly after April onward. Check the status of Srinagar – Leh highway status here:

If you plan to fly to Leh, ensure an additional rest day to acclimatise yourself to the high altitude. Do not take it lightly, nothing happens if you take care.

Exiting Leh – always plan how you want to return back from Leh. One does not want to return back from the divine bliss of the Himalayas but that cannot happen with every wanderlust. The only options to return from Ladakh is by road via Srinagar/Manali or by air. Srinagar roads are safer compared to Manali, conditions of the situation in Kashmir should always be considered. Manali has adventurous roads and beautiful scenes has HPTDC bus run every alternate day during the season. Book well in advance, you may not find tickets during the 11th hour as it’ll be full always. There are shared taxi’s/ tempo travellers plying every night, that’s scary travelling at night in those roads. You can always hire your taxi and pool in like-minded people and take the Manali route. We could not travel via Manali route as we travelled in the month of August and the roads were not great due to heavy rains and it was also closed down for a day. If you plan to fly back, then make advance bookings as the flight tickets would go up as high it can. while we were trying to find tickets from Leh the entire week was from 22000 INR onward from Leh to Delhi.

Even after all the hassles we had reaching Leh and coming back from Leh we had a beautiful vacation, one that I cannot forget throughout. One of the best destinations which I want to go back again and again. The chants Om Mani Padme Hum, the number of times I listen, it takes me to the Himalayan terrain, puts me in peace with the memories of Ladakh. Don’t miss on this destination, it’s not just a destination but an experience.

My itinerary of my last visit to Ladakh, hope to have many more vacations.

Few pictures from my experience:

After Khalsar, Nubra

Nubra Valley @Hunder

Rainbow at Pangong Tso
Prayer flags at Pangong Tso


Glimpse of our National Capital


D.E.L.H.I. We had a stopover for one day so we thought we could get a glimpse of the national capital, Delhi. When you plan to stay in the Hyatt group of hotels any place in the world might make you feel elegant. Same was with me from the moment we were picked from the Airport.

Since it was a weekday and off peak time, traffic was minimal, that was a wow factor for someone who has witnessed Bangalore traffic almost everyday from the last decade. It was in the evening we checked into Hotel Hyatt Regency, at Bhikaiji Cama Place – New Delhi. We were informed about the Cocktail dinner which was from evening 6PM. So, we cancelled all the plans of going out and getting a small glimpse in the evening and moved the plan for next day. And who wants to get out of the comfort after the adventurous travel from the Leh, Ladakh region.

Next day morning Delhi welcomed us with fog covered sky, lately slight showers which made us lazy to start our day early. After Breakfast and only after the rain stopped, we stepped out of the hotel, confused which places to cover in the order of priority. We headed to Connaught Place, passing through all the embassy offices and few offical residences of government officials. All this while, I had a thought in mind, Delhi is so quite and calm and so welcoming still we see a lot of North Indians moved to the south for jobs in IT. Well, I was roaming in the exclusive area of Delhi.

In half a day we could see few places of importance and they were India Gate, Rastrapathi Bhavan and few other Parliament offices around, Red Fort, and Sarojini Nagar Market – we chose this as this was close to our hotel.

My experience at Delhi:
• Once I saw Chandni Chowk roads opposite to Red Fort, I started getting the original taste of delhi. We did not have sufficient time, else would have got the first hand experience of Chandni Chowk.
• People are not helpful, we asked few vendors about the road or metro stations, no one bothers to help you.
• Auto rides never get you fare price, you have to bargain on the price told by the autowala.
Uber surge is on all the time.
• Sarojini Nagar market has good quality branded clothes on very lower price.
• The attractions which we could see were maintained well.

So, I didn’t hate Delhi from my first visit, I’ll be coming back Delhi especially for Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar.

Experiencing Ladakh

Ladakh – like everyone says it’s not a holiday but an experience, an adventure. We experienced lovely 15 days on a journey to the land of passes – Ladakh. Here’s my first post on my Itinerary, I’ll be posting more and more details regarding my trip in the coming days.

When you plan to experience Ladakh – I would say refer Devil on Wheels, this has been a bible to me during my entire trip. Dheeraj Sharma and his team has not left behind any information pertaining your trip to the Himalayans.  Hats off to you and the thankless job you do in helping the vagabonds.

How will I be thankful to the BRO – the Border Roads Organisation for the great roads, yes the great roads in such a terrain, we witnessed people working all throughout during all weather conditions. GREF – General Reserve Engineer Force was there anytime anywhere to clear the roads during landslides, shooting stones, anytime.

To the people of Ladakh who made our journey a wonderful journey to remember forever. To our sarathi’s who were our companions, happy companions, to drive us through such risky roads, with ease you drive and with safety. To Abdul and Rigzin!

Day 01 – Delhi – Leh (05 August 2016)

  • Travelled by air
  • Stay at Jamspal/Ajantha Guest House in Fort road
  • Take rest, acclimatize to the high altitude, Leh is in the altitude of 3500m which is around 11500ft
  • Visit Leh palace in the evening strolling around the main market and fort road on the way back
  • Wind up with the dinner at Amdo’s at the main market
  • Slight dizziness, even little activities would strain us and get us tired. Climbing the Leh palace was a big task!

Note: Stayed at Fort road: recommended vehicle to commute, the roads are sloppy and walking upwards to reach main market is so so difficult for first day.

Few things to remember:

  • Stay Calm
  • Take rest
  • Don’t sleep much
  • Involve in less physical activity
  • Drink water
  • Eat light food
  • Sleep early

Day 2 – Leh – Dras – Kargil (06 August 2016)

  • Dizziness had vanished, felt relieved from the fear of AMS.
  • Started for Kargil, option was to either acclimatize with Leh or visit Kargil. I had to visit Dras for the love of nation.:)
  • Very good roads, less traffic as no one preferred travelling to Kargil from Leh and no one dared travel from Srinagar as unrest and turmoil was going on with curfew laid all over Srinagar.
  • Experienced Magnetic pull at Magnetic Hill point, watched the Moon land spot.
  • Reached Kargil around 3 to 4PM and started hunting for rooms. Avoided the rooms on main road and headed towards Hotel Royal Inn which was beside the Suru River. Checked in and headed towards the destination of the day – Dras War Memorial where the Kargil war was fought and won by India.
  • Spent some time learning about the history of the war and talking to the soldiers. Learned what patriotism is, paid respect to the martyred soldiers.

Mountain Pass en-route:
Fotu La -4,108 m (13,478 ft)
Namika La – 3,700 m (12,139 ft)

Day 3 – Kargil – Batalik – Dah Hanu – Khaltsi – Alchi – Leh (07 August 2016)

  • We had scheduled entire site seeing on the way to Kargil for day 3 when we returned. We had tweaked our itinerary based on the suggestion to visit Aryan Villages from our Kargil hotel manager.
  • Travelled from the alternate route to Leh via Batalik crossing all the Aryan Villages.
  • Visited the first Aryan village out of four – Darchik. Our bad, it started breezing and in few seconds it started raining, we rushed back to the car and started towards other village and rain started pouring heavily. Considering other couple along with us and our time schedule we planned to head back to Leh.

Caution – In few minutes’ rain, the roads were damaged with the landslides, shooting stones and at one stretch it was really difficult to pass the muddy patch. It was an experience, all were dumbstruck and quite for some time. But then this is Ladakh, adventure is part of Ladakh travel.

The taxi union is very united and they communicate among the fellow drivers en-route so well. The roads were not good ahead, so all planned to turn back and take another route and travel together. The alternate route joined the Khaltse junction. Skipped Lamayuru Monastery – still regret for not making it to Lamayuru.

Places en-route:

  • Indus-Zanskar Confluence point, both were muddy water, so we went during wrong time, could not witness green colour of Zanskar River.
  • Alchi Monastery – Old and the monastery with broad history.
  • Gurudwara Pathar Sahib – Good vibes, along with nice people around. Paid respects to the deity and on our way back had a chat with one of the soldier pulling us for a Tea and Jalebi and then for the Langar (Dinner)

Mountain Pass en-route:
Hamboting La – 4,024 m (13,202 ft)
Fotu La – 4,108 m (13,478 ft)

Day 4 – Rest Day (Leh Sightseeing) (08 August 2016)

Our travelling partners were not ready for the adventures ahead and planned to return back. We planned to go on with the existing plan, though we took a break this day to adjust with the taxi and other plans.

Hired taxi from our host:

  • Visited Spituk Monastery (Kali Mandir for the Army troop) – It’s on a high and have to climb steps. Still not used to physical activities even after 4 days of acclimatization.
  • Hall of Fame – Not to be missed. Don’t plan this on your first day at Leh, because of less ventilation inside you might feel more uneasy.
  • Shanthi Stupa – This Stupa is built by a Japanese Buddhist along with the help of local Buddhist to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. Our host was delighted to tell us about their contributions in building this place. A very beautiful Stupa with beautiful views within and around, not to be missed.
  • Back to Guest house – Exploring from other guests at the Guest house. Happen to meet a Solo traveler, who enlightened us more about traveling around.

Day 5 – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder – Nubra Valley – (09 August 2016)

  • We had enough time to acclimatize, so we did not worry about reaching the Khardung La top, but the roads were crazy. But hats off to BRO, they were there fixing and maintaining each and every nook.
  • We reached Khardung La top by 10AM, clicked few pictures, and had Maggi at Richen Café there. We could stay there for around 45 minutes without any uneasiness and we were glad for that. We ascended down where the roads were not good for few stretch and the vehicles from the opposite side started. The taxi union has an understanding even here with the traffic. Until 12 you would not see the vehicles on the other side.
  • Buffet lunch at River Side Restaurant – Delicious Veg buffet with beautiful landscapes outside. They have setup umbrellas and chairs outside too. They even offer River Rafting.
  • On the way visited Diskit Monastery, the Monastery has a good view overlooking a big Maitreya Buddha Statue.
  • Stay at Habib Guest house – Suggested by our driver Rigzin. We were a bit hesitant about this place but then we gave it a chance. The Dinner and Breakfast was included in the room rent, food was awesome. Lovely home cooked food. Only drawback with this place was the flies, which we found in all other places later on.
  • After check in we came to the sand dunes. Beautiful landscape, amazing views, sunset and camel ride is a must. Try to reach early in the evening and enjoy what Hunder Sand Dunes have got to offer.

Mountain Pass en-route:
Khardung La – 5,359 m (17,582 ft) and 5,602 m (18,379 ft) elevation is in the vicinity

Day 6 –Nubra Valley – Leh (10 August 2016)

  • Travelled back to Leh enjoying beautiful landscapes, stopping wherever we felt like, and reached early to the Guest House
  • Spent the evening speaking to the travelers at the guest house

Note: There’s an alternate way to reach Pangong Lake on the way back from Nubra Valley. But we had an alternate arrangement from Rigzin for our Nubra trip so we couldn’t make it through that way. We could save a day here.

Day 7 – Leh – Pangong Tso (11 August 2016)

*Road to Pangong Tso was closed for couple of days as it was blocked by the landslide happened on 07 August.

Today was a big day for Buddhists, his holiness Dalai Lama’s teachings was scheduled at Thikshey monastery and all the Buddhist around Leh city were visiting Thikshey monastery to take blessings. We too wanted to join, but the route to monastery was so crowded with vehicles and we thought it’s take long time and we also had to reach Pangong by noon.

  • We went through the scenic routes crossing the Chang La pass
  • Encountered slight snow fall at Chang La pass
  • Did some photo shoot among the Yak’s, Marmots and wildflowers
  • Spotted the Himalayan Griffon Vulture widespread its wings flying peaceful in the clear skies
  • Surprised by the wild horses who climbed half the mountains and tricking us for we thought they were a group of Ibex
  • Experienced the terrific weather conditions by the Pangong Lake. So windy, the wind was pushing us back!
  • It rained for few minutes making us feel sad for not able to see the reflection of cloud, but Ladakh is full of surprises, the rain left behind the beautiful RAINBOW I’ve ever seen in my life. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L
  • Stay at Himalayan Wooden Cottages – Nice place with wonderful caretakers.
  • Felt a little uneasy inside the cottage, it’s on the altitude of 4,350 m (14,270 ft) and because of the windy weather. Drank water with garlic, felt better.

Mountain Pass en-route:
Chang La – 5,360 m (17,590 ft)

Day 8 Pangong Tso – Leh (12 August 2016)

  • Checkout from the Cottage spent some time at the Pangong Lake. Clouds were still there, no clear sky. Bad luck! They say at least we were lucky we could visit the Pangong Lake – last couple of day’s people who had planned could not even visit the majestic Pangong Lake.
  • On the way, visited Thikshey Monastery, Shey Palace and 3 Idiots School (Druk White Lotus School)
  • Avoid lunch at Karu on the way back from Pangong – especially Druk Restaurant
  • Bid Farewell to Abdul – our Sarathi for few days in Ladakh

Day 9 Leh – Shopping Shopping (13 August 2016)

  • Abdul had recommended we shop at Tibetan market, there are plenty but he showed us one at Old road with gate numbers.
  • Visited Women’s Alliance of Ladakh – Spoke to the team handling different workshops on global warming, fighting climate change, corporate globalization, traditional knowledge and skills and many more. They also screen a movie at 2PM in the afternoon related to Ladakh region and all the above topics. We did not get a chance to watch any of them, but the workshop was going on when we went. We also watched how they make the woolen shawls using the authentic pashmina wools. We got some postcards to post to our friends and relatives.
  • We went in search of a specific handicraft item to Women’s Alliance of Ladakh but came back with lot of information from there. We also got the details of the handicraft and where to get that from.
  • So we were at one of the Handicrafts shops to buy the handicrafts. A lady manages this shop, we were not privileged to meet that Lady but we encountered with the Lady’s husband and what a great man he was. We spoke and spoke and spoke all the afternoon no sure for how many hours. It was so nice speaking to Sonam, this man, gem of a person.
  • It’s a routine for us to hang around the main market area during the evenings, distributing chocolates to the kids and close for the day. Localities come to main market area to sell home grown vegetables, apples and apricots. Most of them come from Dah-Hanu region to sell their produce, from so far. They stay near the main bus stand area, because this is the only season they can make some money and main market is the place where tourists flock. A request to be a responsible tourist – Not to bargain hard on them for just a quarter kg of apricots or apples. I’ve seen a lady yelling at an old women (I would say yelling not bargaining, by the way she was speaking) and I really felt very very bad for how an educated lady behaving to the helpless vendor.
  • Found Kashmiri food joint – New Wazwan Planet – It was good, mutton was good, place is crowded and the cuisines get over early by 9 or 9.30.

Day 10 Leh – More Shopping (14 August 2016)

  • From the last couple of days we were looking for options to reach Delhi.
  • HPTDC was totally booked and it leaves on every alternate days.
  • Did not want to opt for shared taxi or Tempo traveler as they travel at night
  • Flights were like out of reach starting with 22000 fare per person from Leh to Delhi – for an hour flight! [Aren’t they taking advantage of the situation?]
  • Finally we plan to take out our trump card – airlines miles and shattered to see that the award miles can’t be claimed for the entire week [They have been sold out]
  • Calls begin with the airlines – So a waitlist option is recommended and they say keep calling the support and we will update you on the status.
  • We call the airlines every hour with no luck!
  • Do more and more shopping at Tibetan Market, Moti Market, Main Market, roam around Leh Market, and talk to people and distribute chocolates to kids. Their priceless smile when they receive unexpected bounty.

Day 11 Leh – More Shopping (15 August 2016)

  • It’s Independence Day; we had lot of plans but also worry about our return.
  • We had planned to be in Delhi on 15th but that did not happen. We thought our waitlisted PNR would be confirmed by morning but that did not happen.
  • Run to HPTDC office to book ticket for 17 August, the person says there was a cancellation and we should be placed against that – but the system wasn’t working.
  • Called after few minutes to know someone had taken those tickets online. How bad!
  • Calls begin with the airless again the same story!
  • More and more shopping in the day
  • Visited Chokang Vihara, a small and peaceful monastery in the main market area. Spent hours inside this monastery sitting peacefully and talking to the monks.
  • Call hour after hour to the airlines asking for our waitlist status and we are asked to keep waiting. We decide to head over to the airport in the morning.

Day 12 Leh – More Shopping (16 August 2016)

  • We checkout and drive towards the Airport.
  • Surprised that our waitlist has been cancelled
  • Call airlines call support and bang bang bang
  • Get to know the mistake of airline and somehow we get our award ticket confirmed for next day. [Redeeming award miles was like literally begging with the airlines. This is what we get after being loyal to a particular airline?]
  • Hurray – one more day at Leh.
  • Post office was closed for few days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday for Independence Day.
  • Excited to write letters and post them to our dear ones. It was a nostalgic feeling, remembering our childhood days.

Day 13 Leh – Delhi (17 August 2016)

  • Finally, here we are with the confirmed ticket travelling to Delhi.
  • On reaching Delhi, we planned to stay there for a day.
  • Checked in to Hyatt Regency, relaxed – felt great soaking in the luxury after all the adventures and hard work and stress.

Day 14 Delhi sightseeing – Bangalore (18 August 2016)

Started with Connaught place, India Gate, Rastrapathi Bhavan, Red Fort and then little time at Sarojini Nagar Market. That sums up for our 15 days out from the rat race.

Shades of Kochi: In and around

We were at Fort Kochi for three days and it is sufficient to explore Kochi, though we did not try the backwater trips. I would suggest a weekend trip, even a day is enough to explore Kochi. Alleppey is around two hours drive so exploring Kochi and Alleppey would have been great. Virtual journey of our visit through these pictures we captured.

View from St. Francis Church (Close to Chinese Fishing Nets)
Non electrical fan, these are manually operated by pulling ropes (The church was under renovation so not sure if it still works)
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica (On the way to Chinese Fishing Nets)

Around Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace)

Biriyani at Kayees Rahmathulla Cafe (Sweet but authentic Biriyani)

Fort Kochi Jail (Near CHinese Fishing Nets – a Heritage site, freedom fighters were imprisoned here)
Pepper House cafe aka Cafe Agape of Malayalam movie Premam
Pepper House cafe, one of the Premam scenes were shot here at the waterfront
Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue

Seafood at Vasco Da Gama Square Fort Kochi (You buy fish, a food joint near will prepare based on your preference)

Ammachi’s Pazhamkanji with Kappa(Tapioca), Pickle, Chutney for as less as 50 Rupees at Pappadavada, MG Road

Here and there…

And there’s Chinese Fishing Nets

Shades of Kochi: Chinese Fishing Nets

IMG_8249Fort Kochi, small sleepy town during the monsoons. During our visit to Fort Kochi, mostly off season as June to September is the core monsoon season in Kerala. Well, we love monsoon and the shades of nature during monsoon. Since, it’s the beginning of the season we could still see tourists from around Kerala flocking on the touristy small town of Kochi.

Chinese Fishing Nets is one of the main tourist attractions in Vasco Da Gama square, Fort Kochi. During our three days stay at Fort Kochi, we have been here during the day light, sunset and sunrise. We loved the place most during the sunrise, as the shore is serene with only fishermen and no tourist except the one’s who love serenity and photography. I liked the early morning auction of the fresh catch of the day. The state fish of Kerala, Pearl Spot (Karimeen) was so live even when out of the water.

Few shades of Chinese Fishing Nets during the Daylight, Sunrise and Sunset:

Faces and Pilgrimages

We see faces everywhere.I was going through my collections and these people reminded me of those visits. Here are the portraits of people whom we captured on our different trips to spiritual destinations around.

DharmasthalaPiligrims who visit Dharmasthala take a holy dip at the Netravathi River bank. Seeing the Baba’s image here, I remembered the condition of Netravathi river. People have not considered nature as their home, they have polluted the river and the river banks with everything they can. It is very disheartening to see the temple town in such a state.

Dharmasthala at Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka is home to Shri Manjunatha Temple and piligrims from all over Karnataka visit this temple. Dr. Veerendra Heggade is the current successor of this temple and known for his provinding judgement to the one’s who come seeking justice. It is believed that the justice he provides represents the will of dieties.

Shri Manjunatha Temple, also has a very organised dining hall providing free food for lakhs of piligrims visiting everyday. The service is so swift, making it possible for more people to dine easily. The Dharmasthala kitchen was also featured in National Geographic Channel. Refer:

Haji Ali
Haji AliOn our way to Haji Ali, we spotted these gentlemen sitting behind the pickup truck. Their expressions involved in deep thinking.

Mumbai is the city of seven islands and in one of the islet there’s this powerful shrine Haji Ali Mosque and Dargah. We had visited Haji Ali in June and Monsoon had not yet started. So we didn’t have to worry about high tides and we could walk the Worli coastway easily. The path was very very crowded as we visited after dusk, the path was so crowded with street vendors, beggers, homeless, piligrims leaving no space for any movement. But the sight of Haji Ali was illuminating.

MahalakshmiHe’s the flower seller near Mahalakshmi Temple in Mumbai. He was selling Lotus and even at that time at night the lotus was fresh and beautiful.

The Lakshmi temple in Mahalakshmi area is a very famous temple. The temple premises has several stalls and flower sellers around.

TirupathiA mother was applying henna to her dear daughter in the grounds of Tirupati temple. So dear is mothers love.

Tirumala Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati, Andra Pradesh is one of the famous shrine all over India with lakhs of people visiting the temple. One has to wait in the long queues for 3 to 4 hours to get a quick darshan of Lord Venkateshwara.